Picture this: It's right before Thanksgiving, and you're ever-so-patiently navigating the scene at an airport. People are everywhere—but you expected that. What you didn't expect, however, was for your flight to be delayed. So you wait it out, pushing stuffing and mashed potatoes from your mind as you sit patiently, only to discover much later that your flight has been cancelled.
What do you do now? Air travel is always filled with obstacles, but the particular hurdles of a delayed or cancelled flight can be uniquely stressful. And when you add the pressure of Thanksgiving in, this scenario becomes even more complicated. After all, no one wants to arrive late (or not at all) to Thanksgiving dinner.
While we wish that this wasn't so common, the fact that it is makes knowing your options a necessity. So if you're planning on traveling ahead of Thanksgiving, be sure the credit card you booked your flight on has travel delay protection. "Travel delay protection is a benefit offered by several credit cards, ensuring you won't be responsible for additional reasonable expenses when your trip is delayed for a given amount of time," says Emily McNutt, news editor at The Points Guy.
Although travel delay protection won't clear the skies or kick other passengers off overbooked flights, it does provide a safety net for your unforeseen expenses as you await takeoff. We asked McNutt for more details about travel delay protection so you can have it in your back pocket this holiday season. And because there are dozens of credit cards that offer this benefit, we also offered nine examples to look into as you do your research.
"Thanksgiving—especially in the Northeast and upper Midwest—can be a tough time to travel when it comes to weather," McNutt says. "For weather-related delays, you're pretty much on your own—the airline isn't responsible for your expenses. If your trip is delayed, you'll have to front the price for your meals and essentials.
"So trip-delay protection has you covered at one of the most stressful travel periods of the year. For instance, let's say your flight is delayed for an extended period because of a snowstorm. The airline isn't required to pay for your hotel (you'll have to pay for it upfront), but you could eventually be in luck when your credit card offers you a reimbursement through this protection."
What to Know
"Not all credit cards offer trip delay protection," she notes. "Look at the terms and conditions of your credit card and make sure that you're covered."
When it comes to being aware of a credit card's terms, that generally points to the time it takes to qualify for reimbursements. The majority of cards have a minimum time frame for travel protections to kick in, such as for a three-hour delay. In other words, you won't be reimbursed for a short wait.
Secondly, some requirements insist that you book the full cost of the flight on the card, rather than a partial payment, in order to qualify.
Credit Cards With Travel Delay Protection
Citi Prestige, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, and Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: These credit cards require at least a three-hour delay to qualify for a $500 travel protection benefit. It's also important to note that the Platinum Select and Executive World Elite Cards require that the full cost of the ticket be charged on the card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card: These credit cards require up to a six-hour delay to qualify for a $500 reimbursement benefit.
Chase Ink Plus Business Card, Chase United MileagePlus Club Card, Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card: These credit cards require a longer delay of at least 12 hours to qualify for a $500 reimbursement.